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[BOAI] Charles Oppenheim on who owns the rights to scholarly articles

From: "Richard Poynder" <richard.poynder AT>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2014 10:20:37 -0000

The recent decision by Elsevier to start sending take down notices to sites
like, and to individual universities, demanding that they
remove self-archived papers from their web sites has sparked a debate about
the copyright status of different versions of a scholarly paper.


Last week, the Scholarly Communications Officer at Duke University in the
US, Kevin Smith, published a blog post challenging a widely held assumption
amongst OA advocates that when scholars transfer copyright in their papers
they transfer only the final version of the article. This is not true, Smith


If correct, this would seem to have important implications for Green OA, not
least because it would mean that publishers have greater control over
self-archiving than OA advocates assume.


However Charles Oppenheim, a UK-based copyright specialist, believes that OA
advocates are correct in thinking that when an author signs a copyright
assignment only the rights in the final version of the paper are
transferred, and so authors retain the rights to all earlier versions of
their work, certainly under UK and EU law. As such, they are free to post
earlier versions of their papers on the Web.


Charles Oppenheim explains his thinking here:


Richard Poynder



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